Bible, Editions of the

Since the Bible was written (the Old Testament in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek) many centuries before the invention of printing, the only way to multiply copies was by hand. The autograph originals and the earliest copies have all been lost, the oldest extant manuscripts of the whole Bible having been written in the 4th century. Handwritten copies, even if made by painstaking scribes, inevitably contain variations from the original, and the number of such variants were greatly increased by the hands of careless or ignorant copyists. Therefore, by the middle of the 15th century, when printing was invented, there existed a vast number of manuscript copies of the original Bible text, differing from one another in thousands of passages. It has been the task of Scripture scholars, by the comparison and appraisal of these manuscripts, to reconstruct the original as exactly as possible. The Latin Vulgate is the basis for all modern texts; the most notable English translation being the Douay Version. Any printed reproduction of the Bible i.e., of the original text, in whole or in part, is an edition. Various editions of the Hebrew Old Testament have been published by eminent scholars, both Jewish and Christian. Among the best-known editions of the Greek New Testament are those by Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, and Nestle.

New Catholic Dictionary

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